AUGUSTA — It was the game Eric Palin expected; it was also the game his team was prepared to handle.

Of the Messalonskee baseball team’s 15 victories entering Tuesday, six of them had come by two runs or fewer. Why, then, would the Eagles’ Class A North championship game foe be any different?

“We’ve done it all season,” said Palin, Messalonskee’s fourth-year head coach. “I was looking at it today, and we have four come-from-behind wins this season, and we’ve played in four extra-inning games. … We’ve been there before, and I think we’ve learned to handle the pressure through the regular season.”

Messalonskee did it again by defeating Bangor 4-3 to win the A North title at Morton Field. The Eagles, who won their first regional title since 2012, will play Scarborough (18-1) in the state final on Saturday in Augusta.

Michael Achorn had a pair of doubles for Messalonskee, and Ty Bernier added two singles as the Eagles knocked eight base hits as a team. Messalonskee led 4-0 through four innings before Bangor rallied.

“It feels amazing; this is what we’ve wanted for the start of the season,” Achorn said. “We knew we were going to be in for a battle. … Bangor is a great team, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.”


Starting pitcher Garrett Giguere had a flawless start for second-seeded Messalonskee (16-3), retiring the first six Bangor batters he faced. Michael Achorn then led off the bottom of the second with a double to the fence before a Jordan Lewis sacrifice fly and a Sean Achorn RBI single made it 2-0 Eagles.

No. 4 Bangor (11-7-1) then mounted its best rally yet in the top of the fourth but failed to score despite loading the bases with three hits. Messalonskee would make the Rams pay in the bottom of the inning as another Michael Achorn double, a key error in left and a Sean Achorn sac fly played two more runs.

Bangor would score its first run in the top of the fifth before plating two more on four hits in the sixth to cut the deficit to 4-3. Had it not been for Bernier making a heads-up play at second base to double off Ethan Sproul, who was ruled to have left early on a sacrifice fly, the damage could have been worse. 

“I was just watching him — it happens all the time and none of us really realize it — and in the corner of my eye, he was way off, and I just called it out,” Bernier said. “Thanks to Sean (because) he stepped off and threw it to me, and he was out.”

Achorn, who had relieved Giguere in the fifth, then hit Bangor’s Kyle Johnson to begin the last inning before the Rams used a sacrifice bunt and a fly ball to center field to advance Johnson to third. Yet the Messalonskee reliever was unfazed as he struck out Teddy Stephenson swinging to end the game.


Sean Achorn closed out his second straight game  — he did so for Denny Martin in Messalonskee’s 6-5 semifinal victory Saturday against Skowhegan. Just as he did then, he did it with his brother, Michael, catching strike three behind the plate to close out the game.

“It’s amazing,” Michael Achorn said of catching the winning pitch from his freshman brother. “I love catching for my brother; it’s really surreal. Whenever I get to play with my brother, it’s a blessing. I love playing with him.”

The win meant more than just a regional title for Bernier, too. The Messalonskee junior was watching from the stands 12 years ago when his father, Ray, coached the Eagles to the Class A state title. Messalonskee’s opponent in that game? Well, let’s just say Saturday will feel familiar to the younger Bernier.

“It’s been a full circle,” Bernier said. “I started off with my dad, just watching him coaching them on the sidelines. They won a state championship against Scarborough, so (I’m) hoping history repeats itself.”

Sproul led the way with a single and a double for Bangor as Kyle Johnson took the loss in a complete-game effort. The regional championship game defeat was the second in a row for the Rams after they’d won back-to-back Northern Maine titles in 2021 and 2022.

As for Messalonskee? Well, Palin knew it wasn’t out of the question for the Eagles to be on this field celebrating a regional title when practices began in late March. Although he and his coaching staff had some concerns, Messalonskee had long overcome them just by reaching this stage — and this was just the cherry on top.

“We had a lot of conversations about how our pitching staff was going to look; that was our biggest question mark,” Palin said. “We knew our offense was going to be good this year — even improved from last season — and with our pitching staff, people just stepped up.”

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